Waiting until the last round to draft a kicker has long been a tip from fantasy football experts—and the New Orleans Saints benching kicker Garrett Hartley this week is a great reason why.
As the Saints bring in veteran kicker John Carney, who will start for them this Sunday according to reports, it is time to re-introduce the idea of kickers being almost an entirely unpredictable fantasy football position.
No matter how much time experts spend on explaining this theory, though, there are almost always numerous owners in every draft who decide to select a kicker well before their last-round pick.
According to KFFL.com’s Average Draft Position (ADP) Chart, New Orleans Saints kicker Garrett Hartley was the number one kicker off the board in most fantasy drafts in 2010. Hartley’s ADP of 143.04 put him as a 12th-round pick in standard 12-team leagues.
Notable players drafted after Hartley include Dolphins QB Chad Henne, Bears TE Greg Olsen, and Buccaneers WR Mike Williams. More interesting than all of these, though, is Indianapolis Colts WR Austin Collie who currently the top scoring fantasy wide receiver in the NFL and was drafted significantly after Harley in most drafts.
It is very possible that while an owner was selecting Garrett Hartley in the 12th round, the person behind him ended up taking Austin Collie or any number of other players who have performed significantly better than Harley so far in 2010.
The theory of “getting the best kicker” is a misconception that causes problems for fantasy owners every year, but this might be the first time in recent memory that a kicker has actually been benched just three games into the season.
I’ll spare you the explanation of why it is a good strategy to be the last person to take a kicker (or a defense) and shoot straight to the facts. The following were the top kickers taken according to ADP and their current ranking among scorers at their position:
- Garrett Hartley, NO (currently ranked 21st)
- Nate Kaeding, SD (currently ranked 24th)
- Stephen Gostkowski, NE (currently ranked 23rd)
- Mason Crosby, GB (currently ranked 5th)
- Ryan Longwell, MIN (currently ranked 26th)
We’re still early in the season, but the complete lack of consistency among the top kickers—namely Hartley who is now not even kicking for his team—once again shows us why it is a ridiculous idea to think that reaching to draft a kicker early is worthwhile. It's simply a rookie mistake that far too many non-rookies seem to make.
So save this page and make sure to bring it up in 10 months when we’re all drafting again. Don’t be the dummy who thinks he’s getting an amazing value by drafting a kicker while his friend is drafting Austin Collie. Be smart and wait until your last pick to spin the random wheel of chance on kickers.